On Jan. 1, 2014, the next phase of incandescent lamp regulations in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 went into effect. This phase prohibits the manufacture and import of 40–60-watt (W) incandescent, general-service lamps that do not meet certain energy-efficiency criteria. The result is elimination. As it is estimated that more than 425 million 60W lamps are sold each year, a lot of sockets will be up for grabs.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently characterized the opportunity in more detail in a study published last year. The average home—including single-family, multifamily and mobile homes—contains an estimated 67 lamps operating 1.6 hours per day and consuming about 4.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electric energy. More than half (38) are installed in the ceiling. An average of three lamps are controlled by a dimmer, with two out of three dimmed lamps installed in the ceiling. Of the 67 lamps, an average of 42 are incandescent (average 58W per lamp), 14 are compact fluorescent (CFL) (average 15W per lamp) and 11 are other (e.g., residential linear fluorescent or high-intensity discharge, with an average of 80W per lamp).
The most suitable replacement choices for 60W incandescent lamps are halogen A-lamp, CFLs and light-emitting diode (LED) lamps. A large number of halogen lamps are now available that comply with the act and provide nearly equivalent performance as the incandescent lamps they could replace. They have a similar form factor, dim easily on line-voltage dimmers, and offer a color rendering index (CRI) rating of about 100 while achieving an efficacy that is about 30 percent greater. National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) member sales data indicate this lamp type is the fastest growing choice; as of Q2 2013, it had captured a 10.4 percent market share, eight percentage points higher than the previous year, while incandescent’s share fell to 64.5 percent.
The CFL is another choice that is gaining popularity as use of incandescent lamps wanes. NEMA data indicated a 25.1 percent market share in Q2 2013. Note that, by law, all CFLs sold in the United States must comply with select Energy Star criteria related to lumen maintenance, rapid-cycle stress testing and lamp life. Adoption of CFLs continues to be inhibited by aspects of performance that are not equivalent to incandescent.
That leaves the LED, which has been developing fast and now offers a number of viable choices for 60W sockets. A typical 60W incandescent lamp produces about 850 lumens, operating at an efficacy of 14 lumens per watt, and it typically has a warm color temperature of 2,700–2,800K and a CRI rating of about 100. LED alternatives to the 60W lamp have been around since 2010. The database search engine at www.lightingfacts.com revealed 74 products rated at 800–900 lumens, 9–14W (57–90 lumens per watt), 2,700–3,000K color temperature, and 80+ CRI in September 2013. Four had a CRI of 90+, which is now required in California to qualify for rebate programs. More than 20 satisfied Energy Star labeling criteria.
As LED technology established a high degree of performance equivalence with incandescent lamps, while saving energy and offering longer service life, cost remains an issue. In March 2012, the average retail price for an 800-lumen LED A-lamp was around $30. A year later, Cree made news by launching a series of LED replacement lamps at a price point of $10–15. The 60W replacement model draws 9.5W and delivers 800 lumens of 2,700K or 5,000K white light. Philips and GE both announced they would offer products at a similar price point.
When comparing energy-efficient lamp replacements for incandescent A-lamps, be sure to use the Lighting Facts label to quickly evaluate and compare light output, wattage, estimated annual energy cost, color temperature and rated life in years. Note the label does not include some important information such as CRI, cost, whether it can be dimmed, and whether the light distribution is truly omnidirectional like an incandescent A-lamp.
When selecting a new lamp, start with light output as the primary metric. Selected lamps generally should be similar in color temperature to other lamps in the space. The lamp should also have a form factor that will allow it to fit into the existing luminaire housing. In some cases, it may be economical and beneficial (in terms of performance) to consider a new luminaire that was purpose-built to operate an energy-efficient light source. If the lamp must be dimmed, it must be designated as dimmable by the manufacturer; check compatibility with the dimmer manufacturer’s compatibility tables. Because some energy-efficient light sources are sensitive to heat, which can affect light output and, therefore, service life, avoid installing them in warm locations, such as enclosed luminaires, unless they are specifically rated for the application. After installation, be sure the light pattern is satisfactory and that the lamps and controls work together properly.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007’s incandescent regulations may be bad news for some, but the good news is that there are viable choices with good performance at a lower energy cost. Some resources you can check out are the mobile app www.lightbulbfinder.net, NEMA’s Lumen Coalition (www.lumennow.org) and the Lighting Research Center’s Lighting Patterns for Homes (www.lrc.rpi.edu/patternbook).